Nul points

13 December 2017 | Jo Doverman

First it was Volkswagen with its emissions scandal

And now, it seems Fiat is also under fire in the press for creating the most unsafe car on the market. If you drive a Fiat Punto, you might want to stop reading now.

The Fiat Punto, which has been in circulation since 2005 has just scored a record breaking…ZERO stars in the crash test - the first vehicle to achieve such a low rating in 20 years. Not exactly the recognition Fiat was aiming for I’m sure!

The Euro NCAP (new car assessment programme) rates cars across four key safety points – those videos of cars hurtling towards a wall with a dummy driver? That’s them. A vehicle must score at least one star in order to be deemed ‘safe’. But to be honest, I’d argue that measly score is a little concerning and I wouldn’t fancy my chances in a one star car!

This is a particularly tricky situation from a PR management point of view because you simply cannot argue with the facts they’ve released in the press and you can’t really put a positive slant on what is basically a completely failed safety test.

When the Punto was launched in 2005, it actually achieved a five-star rating. However, the testing standards have since been revised and improved over the years, making the test harder to pass with flying colours. Which is a good thing in the long run, because modern cars must be super safe in order to achieve the five-star status.

The spokesperson for the group which owns Fiat, as well as Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Maserati has (ironically) said: “safety is of the utmost importance to the group.”

On one hand, this is an old model and anyone driving a 12-year-old car has to accept it might not be the safest modern ride on the road, but you’d certainly expect it to achieve some level of safety!

A spokesperson for the crash-safety body said the re-testing of the Punto is a prime example of a manufacturer “continuing to sell a product well past its best-before date, at the expense of the unsuspecting car buyer.”

The testing company explains that the Punto isn’t necessarily unsafe, but their tests have sped up the development of safety technology and it’s really highlighting that not all carmakers are keeping their brands and new models up to date. This really just shows how important it is maintain your brand, to uphold your reputation in the public eye.

Much like the VW scandal, this will be difficult for Fiat to turn around and recover from. Good bit of PR for the crash testers though, as they show just how stringent their tests are! Not so good for Fiat however, who have been used as an example of how not to keep your product in line with basic safety measures…!